Tell us what you do.
I’m the Marketing Manager here at Archaia, but I also do a lot of PR work. Basically, it’s my job to increase awareness about the Archaia brand, our titles, and our creators. Among the things I do are: oversee our website and social networks; plan, coordinate, and oversee our exhibits at conventions; work with members of the press on interviews, reviews, and features; plan and execute various marketing initiatives; and basically be an Archaia ambassador wherever I go.
How did you get into comics? What was the first comic you read?
The first comic I ever read and owned was the Treasury Sized Edition of Star Wars. I was obsessed with everything Star Wars back then, collecting action figures, sleeping on the bed sheets, listening to the score on a record player. However, I didn’t really get into comics until later, in the early 1990s. All my friends were into comics so I picked up the hobby, too. I was a huge fan of the Valiant books back then: Archer and Armstrong, Harbinger, H.A.R.D. Corps, Solar, Magnus, and X-O Manowar. I’m really excited for the company’s relaunch. I also read a lot of Image’s early stuff, like Youngblood, WildC.A.T.S., and Cyberforce. I didn’t read much of the Big Two stuff, but I was obsessed with John Byrne and Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men and Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s run on Teen Titans. Then, in 1998, I got a job working at Wizard Magazine, so my interest in comics exploded from there.
What is your favorite part about working for Archaia?
I am grateful every day to be working in comics. I can’t draw, I don’t write (at least not yet), but I work in comics! The best part about working at Archaia, however, is the people. From the CEO down to our interns, it’s a nice little work family. And I love our creators! Such talented, awesome folk, and every one so easy to work with.
What are some upcoming Archaia titles that you are really excited about?
All of them, of course! I know that’s a cop-out but what do you expect from a PR guy?
What is your favorite part about working in marketing? Highlights of your career?
I’m a people person, and in my position, I get to meet a ton of them. Getting to know someone new is always an exciting part. I have a few career highlights when I used to work at Wizard and Top Cow, but I have two highlights from working at Archaia, one of which I wasn’t even there for! Two years ago, on Free Comic Book Day, we put out a Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock flip book, and I was able to work with the Jim Henson Company to bring in Karen Prell, the puppeteer for Red Fraggle, to make a public appearance with Red at our signing event at Meltdown Comics. However, one of my very good friends was getting married that day, so I missed the whole appearance! The event went off without a hitch, and I heard many nice reports and saw some cool photos, so it was definitely a highlight. The other highlight was when I was at the Eisners ceremony last year and two Archaia books—Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard and Return of the Dapper Men—won awards for Best Anthology and Best New Graphic Album, respectively. I was very happy for our creators and the Archaia team. The comic book industry essentially patted us on the back and said, Nice job. It was gratifying.
What are your keys to being a successful marketing man?
You have to stay up-to-date with new trends and technologies, especially in the marketing field. Facebook and Twitter are two of the best inventions to happen to a marketer. You have to be innovative—try something no one else is doing. It was my boss’ idea to give out a mini-hardcover book for Free Comic Book Day this year, something no one else had ever done before. It generated a lot of positive buzz and improved orders! If you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas, borrow an idea that has worked for another company, and you don’t even have to limit it to your industry. You have to be persistent—keep at it until you get a response, but don’t be annoying. Be nice to everyone you meet, talk to, or deal with, no matter what kind of day you’re having. And you have to be organized. I’m still working on that last key.
It is often said that you know everyone in comics. How did you manage this?
I don’t know everyone, but I know quite a few folks! I’ve worked in the comic book industry since 1998. I’ve served as a copy editor, an associate editor, a managing editor, an editorial director, and a marketing manager at three different comic book companies, so needless to say, I’ve met many, many people during that time.
Your Memorial Day barbecue has become so legendary that it even has its own hashtag: #MelsBBQ. How’d it get so big?
[Laughs] The barbecue started out as a really small gathering of my friends in LA but grew to this massive affair this year of over 100 people after word got out that I serve some really good food and the people are all so chill. My friend Elena coined the hashtag last year, and it exploded on twitter when a buddy of mine took a picture of the “X-Men: First Class” skywriting viral campaign over my house and put the hashtag in the tweet. It got retweeted hundreds of times, and before I knew it, #MelsBBQ was trending in LA. But outside of that, like I mentioned before, I get to meet a lot of great people in this business. I don’t get to see each of them all the time, and I love to entertain, so the barbecue is the perfect way for me to gather all my LA friends in one place to catch up!
Who is your favorite fictional character?
I have two. Being born and raised on East 14th St. in Manhattan may have to do with my choices, and seeing both of these movies by the time I was 13 left lasting impressions. Two of my favorite movies growing up—other than Star Wars, of course—were Jaws and The Warriors.
My favorite character from Jaws is Chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider. Here’s this New York guy who moves to a resort island in New England and is confronted with this insane situation—a killer shark terrorizing his beach! At first he’s incredulous, then he’s freaked out, but then he gets pissed because one of his sons is almost killed. Despite his own fear of the water, he sucks it up and sets out to help kill the shark, even though he’s immensely terrified. It’s a great transformation to watch on screen. I’m so psyched about the restoration they’re doing for the film for Blu-ray as part of Universal’s 100th anniversary, and Jamie Benning, who did those fan documentaries on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, is working on one for Jaws, so I’m excited to watch that, too.
My favorite character from The Warriors is Swan, played by Michael Beck. Most people would say Ajax (played by James Remar) is their favorite character in the film, but for me, it’s Swan. He’s just become the leader of his gang, The Warriors, after their previous leader is killed, and now he has to lead his group—via subway—from the Bronx all the way back to their home turf of Coney Island, all while every other gang in the city is out to kill them and every cop is looking to bust them. But is Swan worried? No way. He has this constant, defiant expression (seriously, the guy never smiles once in the film) and kicks ass when he has to. His strong leadership and tough demeanor in such a chaotic setting always resonated with me.
If you could change the ending of one story (book, movie, tv show, etc), which one would it be?
There’s an early 1980s movie called “The Last American Virgin” in which the protagonist gets royally f**ked at the end. I want to change the ending of that movie so bad, but not for him to get the girl, but for the girl to get her just desserts. She’s a b—-h! See the movie and you’ll know what I mean.
Which character from an Archaia title is most like you?
Noburo from the Okko series, if only because he is a big dude and I am a big dude.
What was it like being voted one of Geek To Me’s Hottest Geek Guys of Winter?
Surprising! But an honor, and I thank all the people who nominated me to be put on the list. I’m usually the guy behind the scenes, pulling the strings, so I’m not used to being the center of attention like that. And me? Sexy? Yeah, right! I’m clumsy and lumber about like an oaf. But I am still very flattered to be on the list. Luckily, I didn’t get too much guff for it when it came out. My brother hasn’t seen it yet, thank God. He would give me so much sh—.
Is the internet forever?
Yes. It’s my credo. Always make sure before you hit that Send or Return button that you can live with what you’re about to post online, because it will never, ever go away and may come back some day to haunt you.
wuts ur problem wif typoes???
I often brown-bag it for lunch because eating out every day is expensive. I like to cook! So I usually cook a big batch of something, apportion it, freeze it, and bring it in for lunch to heat in the microwave. Today it’s whole wheat linguine with a turkey meat ragú.